• The Real Reasons Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Wanted Khashoggi ‘Dead or Alive’

    Christopher Dickey 10.21.18
    His death is key to understanding the political forces that helped turn the Middle East from a region of hope seven years ago to one of brutal repression and slaughter today.

    The mind plays strange tricks sometimes, especially after a tragedy. When I sat down to write this story about the Saudi regime’s homicidal obsession with the Muslim Brotherhood, the first person I thought I’d call was Jamal Khashoggi. For more than 20 years I phoned him or met with him, even smoked the occasional water pipe with him, as I looked for a better understanding of his country, its people, its leaders, and the Middle East. We often disagreed, but he almost always gave me fresh insights into the major figures of the region, starting with Osama bin Laden in the 1990s, and the political trends, especially the explosion of hope that was called the Arab Spring in 2011. He would be just the man to talk to about the Saudis and the Muslim Brotherhood, because he knew both sides of that bitter relationship so well.

    And then, of course, I realized that Jamal is dead, murdered precisely because he knew too much.

    Although the stories keep changing, there is now no doubt that 33-year-old Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the power in front of his decrepit father’s throne, had put out word to his minions that he wanted Khashoggi silenced, and the hit-team allegedly understood that as “wanted dead or alive.” But the [petro]buck stops with MBS, as bin Salman’s called. He’s responsible for a gruesome murder just as Henry II was responsible for the murder of Thomas Becket when he said, “Who will rid me of that meddlesome priest?” In this case, a meddlesome journalist.

    We now know that a few minor players will pay. Some of them might even be executed by Saudi headsmen (one already was reported killed in a car crash). But experience also tells us the spotlight of world attention will shift. Arms sales will go ahead. And the death of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi risks becoming just one more entry in the annals of intensifying, murderous repression of journalists who are branded the “enemy of the people” by Donald Trump and various two-bit tyrants around the world.

    There is more to Khashoggi’s murder than the question of press freedom, however. His death holds the key to understanding the political forces that have helped turn the Middle East from a region of hope seven years ago to one of brutal repression and ongoing slaughter today. Which brings us back to the question of the Saudis’ fear and hatred of the Muslim Brotherhood, the regional rivalries of those who support it and those who oppose it, and the game of thrones in the House of Saud itself. Khashoggi was not central to any of those conflicts, but his career implicated him, fatally, in all of them.

    The Muslim Brotherhood is not a benign political organization, but neither is it Terror Incorporated. It was created in the 1920s and developed in the 1930s and ‘40s as an Islamic alternative to the secular fascist and communist ideologies that dominated revolutionary anti-colonial movements at the time. From those other political organizations the Brotherhood learned the values of a tight structure, party discipline, and secrecy, with a public face devoted to conventional political activity—when possible—and a clandestine branch that resorted to violence if that appeared useful.

    In the novel Sugar Street, Nobel Prize-winning author Naguib Mahfouz sketched a vivid portrait of a Brotherhood activist spouting the group’s political credo in Egypt during World War II. “Islam is a creed, a way of worship, a nation and a nationality, a religion, a state, a form of spirituality, a Holy Book, and a sword,” says the Brotherhood preacher. “Let us prepare for a prolonged struggle. Our mission is not to Egypt alone but to all Muslims worldwide. It will not be successful until Egypt and all other Islamic nations have accepted these Quranic principles in common. We shall not put our weapons away until the Quran has become a constitution for all Believers.”

    For several decades after World War II, the Brotherhood’s movement was eclipsed by Arab nationalism, which became the dominant political current in the region, and secular dictators moved to crush the organization. But the movement found support among the increasingly embattled monarchies of the Gulf, including and especially Saudi Arabia, where the rule of the king is based on his custodianship of Mecca and Medina, the two holiest sites in Islam. At the height of the Cold War, monarchies saw the Brotherhood as a helpful antidote to the threat of communist-led or Soviet-allied movements and ideologies.

    By the 1980s, several of the region’s rulers were using the Brotherhood as a tool to weaken or destroy secular opposition. Egypt’s Anwar Sadat courted them, then moved against them, and paid with his life in 1981, murdered by members of a group originally tied to the Brotherhood. Sadat’s successor, Hosni Mubarak, then spent three decades in power manipulating the Brotherhood as an opposition force, outlawing the party as such, but allowing its known members to run for office in the toothless legislature, where they formed a significant bloc and did a lot of talking.

    Jordan’s King Hussein played a similar game, but went further, giving clandestine support to members of the Brotherhood waging a covert war against Syrian tyrant Hafez al-Assad—a rebellion largely destroyed in 1982 when Assad’s brother killed tens of thousands of people in the Brotherhood stronghold of Hama.

    Even Israel got in on the action, initially giving Hamas, the Brotherhood branch among the Palestinians, tacit support as opposition to the left-leaning Palestine Liberation Organization (although PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat once identified with the Brotherhood himself).

    The Saudi royals, too, thought the Brotherhood could be bought off and manipulated for their own ends. “Over the years the relationship between the Saudis and the Brotherhood ebbed and flowed,” says Lorenzo Vidino, an expert on extremism at George Washington University and one of the foremost scholars in the U.S. studying the Brotherhood’s history and activities.

    Over the decades factions of the Brotherhood, like communists and fascists before them, “adapted to individual environments,” says Vidino. In different countries it took on different characteristics. Thus Hamas, or its military wing, is easily labeled as terrorist by most definitions, while Ennahda in Tunisia, which used to be called terrorist by the ousted Ben Ali regime, has behaved as a responsible political party in a complex democratic environment. To the extent that Jamal Khashoggi identified with the Brotherhood, that was the current he espoused. But democracy, precisely, is what Mohammed bin Salman fears.

    Vidino traces the Saudis’ intense hostility toward the Brotherhood to the uprisings that swept through much of the Arab world in 2011. “The Saudis together with the Emiratis saw it as a threat to their own power,” says Vidino.

    Other regimes in the region thought they could use the Brotherhood to extend their influence. First among these was the powerful government in Turkey of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has such longstanding ties to the Islamist movement that some scholars refer to his elected government as “Brotherhood 2.0.” Also hoping to ride the Brotherhood wave was tiny, ultra-rich Qatar, whose leaders had used their vast natural gas wealth and their popular satellite television channel, Al Jazeera, to project themselves on the world stage and, they hoped, buy some protection from their aggressive Saudi neighbors. As one senior Qatari official told me back in 2013, “The future of Qatar is soft power.” After 2011, Jazeera’s Arabic channel frequently appeared to propagandize in the Brotherhood’s favor as much as, say, Fox News does in Trump’s.

    Egypt, the most populous country in the Arab world, and the birthplace of the Brotherhood, became a test case. Although Jamal Khashoggi often identified the organization with the idealistic hopes of the peaceful popular uprising that brought down the Mubarak dynasty, in fact the Egyptian Brotherhood had not taken part. Its leaders had a modus vivendi they understood with Mubarak, and it was unclear what the idealists in Tahrir Square, or the military tolerating them, might do.

    After the dictator fell and elections were called, however, the Brotherhood made its move, using its party organization and discipline, as well as its perennial slogan, “Islam is the solution,” to put its man Mohamed Morsi in the presidential palace and its people in complete control of the government. Or so it thought.

    In Syria, meanwhile, the Brotherhood believed it could and should lead the popular uprising against the Assad dynasty. That had been its role 30 years earlier, and it had paid mightily.

    For more than a year, it looked like the Brotherhood’s various branches might sweep to power across the unsettled Arab world, and the Obama administration, for want of serious alternatives, was inclined to go with the flow.

    But then the Saudis struck back.

    In the summer of 2013, Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sissi, the commander of the Egyptian armed forces, led a military coup with substantial popular support against the conspicuously inept Brotherhood government, which had proved quickly that Islam was not really the “solution” for much of anything.

    Al-Sissi had once been the Egyptian military attaché in Riyadh, where he had many connections, and the Saudis quickly poured money into Egypt to shore up his new regime. At the same time, he declared the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization, and launched a campaign of ruthless repression. Within weeks of the coup, the Egyptian military attacked two camps of Brotherhood protesters and slaughtered hundreds.

    In Syria, the efforts to organize a credible political opposition to President Bashar al-Assad proved virtually impossible as the Qataris and Turks backed the Brotherhood while the Saudis continued their vehement opposition. But that does not mean that Riyadh supported moderate secular forces. Far from it. The Saudis still wanted to play a major role bringing down the Syrian regime allied to another arch enemy, the government of Iran. So the Saudis put their weight behind ultra-conservative Salafis, thinking they might be easier to control than the Muslim Brothers.

    Riyadh is “okay with quietist Salafism,” says Vidino. But the Salafis’ religious extremism quickly shaded over into the thinking of groups like the al Qaeda spinoff called the Nusra Front. Amid all the infighting, little progress was made against Assad, and there to exploit the chaos was the so-called Islamic State (which Assad partially supported in its early days).

    Then, in January 2015, at the height of all this regional turmoil, the aged and infirm Salman bin Abdelaziz ascended to the throne of Saudi Arabia. His son, Mohammed bin Salman, began taking into his own hands virtually all the reins of power, making bold decisions about reforming the Saudi economy, taking small measures to give the impression he might liberalize society—and moving to intimidate or otherwise neutralize anyone who might challenge his power.

    Saudi Arabia is a country named after one family, the al Saud, and while there is nothing remotely democratic about the government, within the family itself with its thousands of princes there traditionally has been an effort to find consensus. Every king up to now has been a son of the nation’s founder, Abdelaziz ibn Saud, and thus a brother or half brother of the other kings.

    When Salman took over, he finally named successors from the next generation. His nephew Mohammed bin Nayef, then 57 and well known for his role fighting terrorism, became crown prince. His son, Mohammed bin Salman, became deputy crown prince. But bin Nayef’s position between the king and his favorite son clearly was untenable. As one Saudi close to the royals put it: “Between the onion and the skin there is only the stink.”

    Bin Nayef was pushed out in 2017. The New York Times reported that during an end-of-Ramadan gathering at the palace he “was told he was going to meet the king and was led into another room, where royal court officials took away his phones and pressured him to give up his posts as crown prince and interior minister. … At first, he refused. But as the night wore on, the prince, a diabetic who suffers from the effects of a 2009 assassination attempt by a suicide bomber, grew tired.” Royal court officials meanwhile called around to other princes saying bin Nayef had a drug problem and was unfit to be king.

    Similar pressure was brought to bear on many of the richest and most powerful princes in the kingdom, locked up in the Ritz Carlton hotel in 2017, ostensibly as part of an extra-legal fight against corruption. They were forced to give allegiance to MBS at the same time they were giving up a lot of their money.

    That pattern of coerced allegiance is what the Saudis now admit they wanted from Jamal Khashoggi. He was no prince, but he had been closely associated in the past with the sons of the late King Faisal, particularly Turki al-Faisal, who was for many years the head of the Saudi intelligence apparatus and subsequently served as ambassador to the United Kingdom, then the United States.

    Although Turki always denied he had ambitions to be king, his name often was mentioned in the past as a contender. Thus far he seems to have weathered the rule of MBS, but given the record of the crown prince anyone close to the Al Faisal branch of the family, like Khashoggi, would be in a potentially perilous position.

    Barbara Bodine is a former U.S. ambassador to Yemen, which has suffered mightily since MBS launched a brutal proxy war there against Iran. Both MBS and Trump have declared the regime in Tehran enemy number one in the region. But MBS botched the Yemen operation from the start. It was dubbed “Decisive Storm” when it began in 2015, and was supposed to last only a few weeks, but the war continues to this day. Starvation and disease have spread through Yemen, creating one of the world’s greatest humanitarian disasters. And for the moment, in one of those developments that makes the Middle East so rich in ironies, in Yemen the Saudis are allied with a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood.

    “What drives MBS is a ruthless effort toward total control domestically and regionally; he is Putin of the Desert,” says Bodine. “He has basically broken the back of the princelings, the religious establishment and the business elite, brought all ministries and agencies of power under his sole control (’I alone can fix it’), and jailed, killed or put under house arrest activists and any and all potential as well as real opposition (including his mother).”

    In 2017, MBS and his backers in the Emirates accused Qatar of supporting “terrorism,” issuing a set of demands that included shutting down Al Jazeera. The Saudis closed off the border and looked for other ways, including military options, to put pressure on the poor little rich country that plays so many angles it has managed to be supportive of the Brotherhood and cozy with Iran while hosting an enormous U.S. military base.

    “It was Qatar’s independent streak—not just who they supported but that they had a foreign policy divorced from the dictates of Riyadh,” says Bodine. “The basic problem is that both the Brotherhood and Iran offer competing Islam-based governing structures that challenge the Saudi model.”

    “Jamal’s basic sin,” says Bodine,“was he was a credible insider, not a fire-breathing radical. He wrote and spoke in English for an American audience via credible mainstream media and was well regarded and highly visible within the Washington chattering classes. He was accessible, moderate and operated within the West. He challenged not the core structure of the Kingdom but the legitimacy of the current rulers, especially MBS.”

    “I do think the game plan was to make him disappear and I suspect the end game was always to make him dead,” said Bodine in a long and thoughtful email. “If he was simply jailed within Saudi there would have been a drumbeat of pressure for his release. Dead—there is certainly a short term cost, whether more than anticipated or longer than anticipated we don’t know yet, but the world will move on. Jamal will become a footnote, a talking point perhaps, but not a crusade. The dismembered body? No funeral. Taking out Jamal also sends a powerful signal to any dissident that there is no place safe.”

    #Arabie_Saoudite #Turquie #politique #terrorisme #putsch

  • Saudi preacher shot dead in Guinea village | News24

    A Saudi Arabian preacher was shot dead in Guinea’s east after organising a prayer service that angered some villagers in the majority-Muslim West African country, local sources said on Wednesday.

    The man, who was a member of a mission building mosques in Upper Guinea, was killed on Tuesday night in the village of Kantebalandougou, between the towns Kankan and Kerouane.


    Saudi Arabia has long faced accusations of exporting Wahhabism, its ultra-conservative form of Islam, which has been gaining popularity across West Africa.

  • Temple Mount crisis: Jerusalem unifies the Muslims through struggle - Palestinians
    Although most Palestinians are not allowed to visit Al-Aqsa, this holy site is doing what the siege of Gaza and the expansion of the settlements could not: bringing them together

    By Amira Hass | Jul. 23, 2017 | 12:55 PM |

    A secular young man from the Ramallah area expressed his astonishment at how Jerusalem was unifying the entire Palestinian people,, and compared the perpetrator of Friday night’s attack in Halamish, Omar al-Abed, to Saladin. A silly comparison, all would agree. Still, the need to bring up Saladin encapsulates all the fatigue among Palestinians about those they perceive as the new Crusaders.

    That young man can’t go to East Jerusalem and the Old City, which is less than 30 kilometers (about 18 miles) from his home, because even in ordinary times Israel doesn’t give entry permits “just like that” for people his age. And perhaps he is among those who consider it humiliating to have to request an entry permit to a Palestinian city. The last time he visited was when he was 13 – some 13 years ago.

    And so this young Palestinian did not hear a few of the preachers in Jerusalem on Friday talk about their longing for Saladin. Because the Palestinians stuck to their prohibition on entering Al-Aqsa through the Israeli metal detectors, self-styled preachers spoke to groups of worshippers who had gathered in the streets of East Jerusalem and the Old City, surrounded by Border Police personnel aiming their long rifles at them.

    One of those preachers said that if not for the positions and actions of various regimes in the world in the past and present, the Jews would not have overcome the Palestinians. Then he paused and added, “If not for the Palestinian Authority, the collaborator, the Jews would not have the upper hand.” He also wondered: “Is it possible that in all the Muslim armies in the world today, not one can produce a Saladin?” And then he promised that the day would come when armies from Jakarta, Istanbul and Cairo will arrive to liberate Palestine, Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa.

    Another preacher made similar statements to a tourist from Turkey before the sermon. The content and style recalled the Islamist-Salafist party Hizb El Tahrir: There is no preaching for an armed struggle against the Israeli occupier, but strong faith in a day when the Muslim world mobilizes and brings down the “Jewish Crusaders.”

    When the prayer was over, only a few joined the call warning Jews that “the army of Mohammed would return” – but no one protested the characterization of the PA as a “collaborator.” Anyway, its activities are forbidden in Jerusalem. Israel pushed out the PLO (to which the PA is theoretically subservient) from every unifying, cultural, social or economic role it had until the year 2000. A vacuum like that can only be filled with religious entities and spokesmen who will give meaning to a life full of suffering. The consistent position of the PLO and the PA that this is not a religious conflict and that Israel should not be allowed to turn it into one doesn’t sound particularly convincing in Jerusalem.

    Since most Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank can’t go to Jerusalem, the city – and particularly the Al-Aqsa Mosque – are for them abstract sites, a “concept” or a picture on the wall; not a reality to be experienced. But this abstract place, Al-Aqsa, is doing what the siege of Gaza and its 2 million prisoners, the expansion of the settlements and the confiscation of water tanks and solar panels from communities in Area C, are not doing: It is unifying them. The anti-colonial discourse, which is essentially national, political and secular, is channeled to Facebook posts, to scholarly articles that do not reach the general public and to hollow slogans mouthed by leaders, the shelf-life of whose leadership and mandate has long since expired.

    In other words, the national discourse and the veteran national leadership are no longer considered relevant today. While Al-Aqsa, in contrast, manages to create mass popular opposition to the foreign Israeli ruler – and that sparks the imagination and inspiration of masses of others who cannot go to Jerusalem. Not only nonreligious people came to places of worship in Jerusalem on Friday to be with their people. A number of Palestinian Christians also joined the groups of Muslim worshippers and prayed in their way, facing Al-Aqsa and Mecca.

    Of course, this is first and foremost the strength of religious belief. The deeper the faith, the greater the insult to its sacred elements. The fact that Al-Aqsa is a pan-Islamic site is an empowering element. But not only that: Jerusalem has the highest concentration of Palestinians who rub elbows with the foreign Israeli ruler, with everything this entails in terms of the trampling on their rights and humiliating them. They don’t need “symbolic sites” of the occupation, like military checkpoints, to recall the occupation or express their rage. And the Al-Aqsa plaza, for its part, is where the largest number of Jerusalemites can gather together in one place to feel like a collective. And when this right to congregate is taken away from them, they protest as one – which also reminds the rest of the Palestinians that the entire public is one, suffering the same foreign rule.

    But that same unified public can no longer express its oneness in mass actions. It is closed and cut off in ostensibly sovereign enclaves, and split into social classes with ever-widening social, economic and emotional gaps. Its road to the symbolic sites of the occupation, which surround every enclave, is blocked by the Palestinian security forces as well as by adaptation to life in the enclave.

    This is the political and factual foundation for the continued presence of lone-wolf attackers, without reference to the outcome of their actions: First of all, the intolerable continuation of the occupation; then the inspiration of Al-Aqsa as a place that unifies, religiously and socially; the disappointing, weakened and weak leadership; and a willingness to die that is a mixture of faith in Paradise and despair at life.

    en français : https://seenthis.net/messages/617928

    • Esplanade des Mosquées : M. Abbas suspend la coordination sécuritaire avec Israël
      Par RFI Publié le 23-07-2017

      Israël joue avec le feu en imposant de nouvelles mesures de sécurité à l’entrée de l’Esplanade des Mosquées. L’accusation est lancée ce dimanche au Caire par le secrétaire général de la Ligue arabe pour qui Jérusalem est une ligne rouge à ne pas franchir. De nouvelles manifestations ont eu lieu samedi et deux nouvelles victimes sont à déplorer : deux Palestiniens ont été tués. Mahmoud Abbas avait annoncé dès vendredi le gel de tous les contacts avec Israël : première traduction concrète ce dimanche avec l’annulation d’une réunion de coopération sécuritaire israélo-palestinienne.

      avec notre correspondante à Ramallah, Marina Vlahovic

  • #echoes : Space and Time

    Intro : Funky 4+1 – That’s the joint

    //Lancement émission

    Kurtis Blow – The breaks Blondie – Rapture Grandmaster Flash and the furious five – The message James Brown – Cold Sweat > Ray Charles – I got a woman Chubby Checker – Let’s twist again Golden Quartet – Preacher and the bear Sugarhill Gang - Rapper’s delight Afrika Bambataa – Planet Rock Run-DMC – It’s tricky Beastie boys – Hey Ladies LL Cool J – I can’t be without my radio De La Soul – Ring Ring Ring Erick B And Rakim – Paid in Full A tribe called quest – Can I kick it?

    #1980s #contre-culture #Origines #NYC #Hip-Hop

  • In Germany, Syrians find mosques too conservative

    Hani Salam escaped civil war in Syria and survived the journey from Egypt to Europe. But when he saw men with bushy long beards at a mosque near his current home in Cologne last November, he was worried.

    The men’s appearance reminded him of Jaish al-Islam, the Islamist rebels who took over his hometown near Damascus, said Salam, 36, who wears a mustache but no beard. One of them told Salam that “good Muslims grow beards, not moustaches,” he recalled – a centuries-old idea that he dismisses.

    “Everything about this mosque made me feel uneasy,” he said.

    Syrians in Germany say many of the country’s Arab mosques are more conservative than those at home.

    Over two months, a dozen Syrians in six places of worship in three cities told Reuters they were uncomfortable with very conservative messages in Arabic-speaking mosques. People have criticized the way the newcomers dress and practice their religion, they said. Some insisted the Koran be interpreted word-for-word.


    The intelligence agency has advised local authorities against housing asylum-seekers near Salafist or Wahhabi mosques.

    “We know of at least 90 Islamist mosques where activities aimed at refugees are taking place. These mosques are largely Arab-dominated and influenced by Salafism,” said Hans-Georg Maassen, head of the agency.

    At the al-Nur mosque in Berlin, which is run by Wahhabis, Syrian Abed al-Hafian said he was alarmed by a strict interpretation of the Koran and Hadith, a collection of sayings of the prophet. He recalled a sentence from Hadith that the preacher quoted on his first Friday: ’Every novelty (in religion) is innovation, and every innovation is misguidance, and every misguidance leads to the hellfire.’

    “I had never heard that sentence in Syria,” said the 42-year-old father of three, who arrived in 2014. “The message is clear and is directed at us Muslims: ’Don’t you dare interpret your religion. Take the Koran word for word.’ It’s a problem.”

  • Hammonda. » Blog Archiv » Arab Media: From Decolonisation to Arab Spring

    Andrew Hammond, toujours pertinent.

    Media in the post-Spring Arab world currently has been targeted by the forces of the state in their counter-revolutionary pushback. Gulf governments have focussed on social media in particular. In 2011 a Saudi royal degree specified a ban on publishing anything deemed as contradicting sharia law, disrupting state security or serving foreign interests. Kuwait passed a law in 2014 establishing a Commission for Mass Communications and Information Technology which would monitor social media. Saudi Arabia’s courts have gone as far as to issue death sentences for opinions expressed on social media (for example, apostasy charges against Palestinian poet Ashraf Fayyad). The Saudi Mufti has repeatedly denounced social media as a source of social immorality, and issued a fatwa in 2011 deeming expression of opposition via street protest or petitioning the country’s rulers as impermissible.


    Another important feature of Arab media is how it has become an arena for the Sunni-Shi’i sectarian schism. Though this sectarianism emerges from the turn to religious politics following the perceived failure of the secular Arab nationalist paradigm in the mid-20th century, it was not until the invasion of Iraq in 2003 that it took on the virulent character it has today. Faced with the rise of Shia Islamists as the dominant political force in Iraq, and whose ascendance was made possible through American intervention, insurgent forces under the al-Qa’ida banner killed Shi’ite civilians, politicians and religious figures in mass violence that was accompanied by a rabid sectarian discourse. Shi’ite militias hit back, creating a civil war like situation in Iraq between 2005 and 2007.

    The strength of Hizbullah in Lebanon (surviving war with Israel in 2006) and the Bahraini uprising in 2011 was to Saudi Arabia further proof that Iran planned to overturn the regional order. Media in all its forms is a vehicle for fighting back, drawing on the anti-Shi’ism at the heart of the Wahhabi Salafi ideology sponsored by the Saudi state. Non-Salafi Islamists joined in: on Al Jazeera, Egyptian preacher Yousef al-Qaradawi described the Bahraini uprising as a Shi’ite revolt and depicted the war against the Assad regime in Syria as a Sunni jihad against infidel Alawis. Iraq and Kuwait-based Shia have been prominent in using TV channels, some of them based in the UK and the USA, to incite against Sunni Islam.

    #médias #monde_arabe

  • #Wahhabism centre shows #conservatism still central to Saudi soul

    Saudi Arabia’s new research centre on Wahhabism, set to open on the edge of the capital Riyadh, looks fitting for a branch of Islam considered inflexible, intolerant and unchanging.

    Imposing with its limestone blocks, their bulk lightened only by glass-enclosed bridges, the centre is part of a major development project shepherded by Saudi King Salman.

    The building honours Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdul Wahhab, the 18th-century fundamentalist preacher who co-founded the Saudi state.

    It is a clear sign that his legacy remains central to the Saudi soul despite his strict doctrine and accusations it is fuelling deadly Sunni extremism around the world, including the murderous drive of Islamic State (IS) group militants.

    En plus cette construction se fait en parallèle de la destruction de places où ont vécu le prophète et sa famille.

  • Preaching Hate and Sectarianism in the Gulf

    As Saudi Arabia expands its involvement in wars across the Middle East, the kingdom has given a platform to an extremist cleric who seems to believe this struggle is not just against the Islamic State or rivals in Yemen. Saad bin Ateeq al-Ateeq, a Saudi preacher with long-standing ties to the kingdom’s government, recently called upon God to “destroy” Shiites, Alawites, Christians, and Jews.

    Saudi King Salman insists that Sunni-Shiite hatred only motivates intervention in Yemen by other “regional powers” — meaning Iran. Ateeq, however, tells a different story: Speaking to the Saudi state news channel al-Ekhbariya one day after Riyadh went to war, he argued that Yemen’s lands were designated “purely for monotheism” and “may not be polluted, neither by Houthis nor Iranians.” He labeled these groups “rafidis,” a derogatory label bashing Shiite Islam, and ominously elaborated: “We are cleansing the land from these rats.”

    Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates — the three most influential members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) — have recently displayed surprising unity through their shared participation in multilateral military operations, first against the Islamic State in Syria and now against Houthi insurgents in Yemen.

    Yet these three governments have another thing in common — each has provided a platform for the radical preaching of Ateeq, whose toxic incitement against other religions parallels the narrative of terrorist groups such as the Islamic State and al Qaeda. That America’s allies would tolerate a religious leader as extreme as this Saudi preacher poses a threat to U.S. interests and suggests the Gulf is failing to live up to its explicit commitments to repudiate the Islamic State’s hateful ideology.

    It’s not like these Persian Gulf states can claim not to know about Ateeq’s hate-filled rhetoric — he has been repeating it for years in prominent, government-affiliated places of worship. Earlier this year, Ateeq delivered a televised sermon at Qatar’s state-controlled Grand Mosque beseeching God to “destroy the Jews and whoever made them Jews, and destroy the Christians and the Alawites and whoever made them Christian, and the Shiites and whoever made them Shiite.” He also prayed for God to “save [the] Al-Aqsa [mosque in Jerusalem] from the claws of the Jews.”

  • Des membres de premier plan des Frères musulmans et sympathisants - dont Mohamed El Beltagy, Safwat Hegazy, Ahmed Mansour (Al Jazeera) - condamnés à des peines de 3 à 15 ans de prison pour « avoir torturé des opposants en 2011 » - Ahram Online


    Mohamed El-Beltagy, Islamic preacher Safwat Hegazy in addition to Brotherhood member Hazem Farouk and Al-Jazeera’s Ahmed Mansour were handed 15-year sentences. Brotherhood members and loyalists Omar Zaky, Mohsen Rady, Osama Yassin and Judge Mahmoud El-Khodeiry were given three-year sentences.

  • #turkey launches criminal investigation into #erdogan foe

    This file picture dated September 24, 2013 shows a handout picture released by Zaman Daily of Turkish Muslim preacher #Fethullah_Gulen at his residence in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania. (Photo: AFP / Zaman Daily - Selahattin Sevi)

    Turkish prosecutors have launched a criminal investigation into US-based Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen based on allegations he attempted to overthrow the government, broadcaster CNN Turk and other media reports said on Wednesday. Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday he would ask the United States to extradite former ally Gulen, whom he accuses of plotting to topple him and undermine Turkey with concocted corruption accusations and secret wiretaps. read (...)


  • Israeli court jails Islamic Movement leader

    An Israeli court sentenced firebrand Islamic preacher Sheikh Raed Salah Tuesday to eight months in prison for inciting Muslims to violence over #jerusalem's #al-Aqsa mosque. Salah, leader of the radical northern wing of the Islamic Movement in occupied #Palestine, was convicted in November of inciting “all Muslims and Arabs” in 2007 to “start an intifada (uprising) to support holy Jerusalem and the blessed al-Aqsa mosque.” In addition to the eight-month sentence, Salah will serve a further eight months if he repeats the same felony within three years, according to a court document. read more

    #Israel #Top_News

  • Saudi Preacher ‘Guides’ Syrian #Druze to Wahhabi Salvation

    Since the start of the Syrian crisis, the Druze in #Idlib have not borne arms on the side of the Syrian army, or formed local armed committees. (Photo: AFP). Since the start of the Syrian crisis, the Druze in Idlib have not borne arms on the side of the Syrian army, or formed local armed committees. (Photo: AFP).

    A Saudi preacher has posted images of himself preaching to residents of the Druze villages of Jabal al-Summaq in the Idlib countryside, leading them in prayer and teaching them about Islam – the Wahhabi version of course. Reports coming from #syria’s Idlib day after day show that a fire is smoldering under the ashes of Druze villages.

    Firas Choufi

    read (...)

    #Mideast_&_North_Africa #Articles #Saudi_Arabia #Wahhabism

  • Saudi cleric jailed eight years for raping, killing five-year-old daughter

    A Saudi court sentenced a preacher convicted of raping his five-year-old daughter and torturing her to death to eight years in prison and 800 lashes, a lawyer said Tuesday. In a case that drew widespread public condemnation in the kingdom and abroad, the court also ordered Fayhan al-Ghamdi to pay his ex-wife, the girl’s mother, one million riyals ($270,000) in “blood money,” lawyer Turki al-Rasheed told AFP. The girl’s mother had demanded 10 million riyals ($2.7 million). read (...)

    #Saudi_Arabia #Top_News

  • Kuwaiti preacher barred from Makkah pilgrimage | GulfNews.com

    Dubai: Prominent Kuwaiti intellectual, motivational speaker and preacher Tareq Suwaidan has been barred from performing the lesser Umrah pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia, he said on Twitter.

    “I have been banned from entering Saudi Arabia solely for my views and my position against the coup in Egypt, and I say that my love for Saudi Arabia and its people is unshaken and that ideas can [never] be banned,” Suwaidan wrote on his Twitter account on Sunday.

    On Tuesday, Suwaidan tweeted: “I have known the people of Saudi Arabia to be the most hospitable of people, therefore I consider those who told me that I am not welcome not to be representing true Saudi hospitality”. He later wrote: “Averros said that ideas have wings to fly with. I say: I wish he had seen Twitter to see how right he was”.


  • Opinion: Qaradawi and Religious Sentiment | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT

    Earlier this week, renowned Mauritanian preacher and jurist Dr. Abdullah bin Bayyah resigned from his post as vice chairman of the International Union for Muslim Scholars (IUMS). The post of chairman is, of course, held by none other than Egyptian-born cleric Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi. Now, Sheikh Qaradawi has displayed a sudden partisan rush of empathy towards the Muslim Brotherhood, thereby placing his colleagues in IUMS—who hate to be branded as Brotherhood supporters—in a particularly embarrassing situation. This is particularly the case as IUMS is dominated by people who adopt the Brotherhood’s discourse and ideology, even if they are not necessarily official members of the group and are viewed as being “formalistically” independent.

    The original objective of IUMS was to “create” an entity for issuing fatwas, serving as a juristic wing that could influence all Muslims whereby it would achieve full stature as a religious institution independent of the Muslim Brotherhood. In fact, this was the big challenge facing the Muslim Brotherhood and those adopting its culture.

    IUMS incorporated well-known names in the world of jurisprudence [Islamic Fiqh] such as Qaradawi himself and Sheikh Abdullah Bin Bayyah. Yet, those affiliated to the organization also include “activists” and zealous preachers who hold influential posts despite lacking the requisite jurisprudential experience and qualifications. The majority of such figures did not resign in the same manner as Bin Bayyah, and remain affiliated to Qaradawi’s Union.

    Were it not for the uprisings against the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and Tunisia, the organization may have swallowed the fatwa issuing institutions and all traditional religious entities, as was manifested by the plot hatched by the Brotherhood against Egypt’s Al-Azhar.

    In my opinion, IUMS, founded in 2004 with a council of trustees incorporating Rachid Ghannouchi and Fahmi Howaidi, was nothing more than a first attempt at creating a Brotherhood-friendly fatwa wing. Yet, the uprising against the Brotherhood has called for old calculations to be reconsidered. For his part, Sheikh Qaradawi opted to deny and escalate the situation, whilst others have submitted to the new reality and taken a step backward, attempting to distance themselves from the Muslim Brotherhood.

  • Saudi preacher who ’raped and tortured’ his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying ’blood money’

    A ‘celebrity’ Saudi preacher accused of raping, torturing and killing his five-year-old daughter has reportedly been released from custody after agreeing to pay ‘blood money’.

    Fayhan al-Ghamdi had been accused of killing his daughter Lama, who suffered multiple injuries including a crushed skull, broken back, broken ribs, a broken left arm and extensive bruising and burns. Social workers say she had also been repeatedly raped and burnt.

    Fayhan al-Ghamdi admitted using a cane and cables to inflict the injuries after doubting his five-year-old daughter’s virginity and taking her to a doctor, according to the campaign group Women to Drive.

    Rather than getting the death penalty or receiving a long prison sentence for the crime, Fayhan al-Ghamdi served only a few months in jail before a judge ruled the prosecution could only seek ‘blood money’.

    Albawaba News reported the judge as saying: “Blood money and the time the defendant had served in prison since Lama’s death suffices as punishment.”

    Fayhan al-Ghamdi, who regularly appears on television in Saudi Arabia, is said to have agreed to pay £31,000 to Lama’s mother.

  • Saudi cleric comes under “vicious attack” over reform letter

    London-based independent newspaper Al-Quds al-Arabi website on 16 March

    [Report by Ahmad al-Misri: “Al-Awdah’s Speech on Reform in Saudi Arabia Sparks Debate on Twitter and the Saudi Preacher Is Subject to Vicious Attacks”]

    The speech in which famous Saudi preacher Salman al-Awdah condemned the seizure of human rights in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has sparked a debate on Twitter. The Saudi cleric has been subject to a vicious attack by what is known, on the social media outlet, as the “strike force” of the Saudi intelligence apparatus.

    The supporters of Al-Awdah’s speech have created a group called hashtag #[word in Arabic] on the Twitter site. These supporters include the names of clerics and people who are famous in the kingdom. Dr Nasir al-Umr wrote on his account: “Thank you, Abu-Mu’adh. You have expressed many of our worries, and whoever does not agree with the content of this speech or is only seeking to find gaps in it should rethink his intentions.” Awad al-Qarni, a famous Saudi preacher, said: This is a speech of compassion and advice that has hit the nail on the head regarding a number of issues, which worry people. I hope it is received with a positive spirit, far away from any negative interpretations."

    Isam al-Zamil, a Saudi internet specialist, conducted a survey about the speech, with the participation of over 10,000 people. The result was: “More than 88 per cent of the people support the speech of Shaykh Salman al-Awdah, while 4 per cent do not support it,” according to Al-Zamil.

    As for the people who oppose Al-Awdah’s speech, they have created a group under the name hashtag #[word in Arabic]. Saudi writer Ahmad al-Arfaj wrote in a tweet: “We want a patriotic speech and patriotic demands, and not a speech linked to an individual that reflects the personal ideologies of its author, from a harsh cleric to one that lives a life of luxury.” While Afnan Bint-Fahd wrote: “Al-Awdah only wants the Muslim Brotherhood to rule Saudi Arabia, even if it means [spilling] blood and [disgracing] honour. Al-Awdah only thinks about his interest.” Someone else wrote: “The Shaykh of NATO said we do not want to fight, waste our resources, or balkanization!! However, yesterday, he calls for jihad in Syria.”

    In an “open speech” on 15 March, Al-Awdah, who is from the [Islamic] awakening trend, which is close in ideology to the Muslim Brotherhood, condemned the seizure of rights, calling for reform and warning, at the same time, that there is tension in the kingdom, which follows a conservative, political, and religious tradition.

    Salman al-Awdah wrote on his website, in the form of excerpts: “People here have wishes, demands, and rights, and they will not keep silent forever over these being fully or partially seized (...) When people lose hope, you have to expect anything from them.” Al-Awdah points out to “negative feelings which have been accumulating for a long time (...) If people cease to feel fear, expect anything from them, and if their anger rises, then nothing will satisfy them. With the rise of anger, the legal and political symbols lose their value, and leadership is then in the hands of the people in the street.”

    Al-Awdah warned against “tension,” calling for “opening horizons to rectify the situation (...) and to protect the gains, such as the geographical unity. This encourages us to call for reform, as the alternative [to reform] would be chaos, balkanization, and belligerency.” He considered “the financial and administration corruption, unemployment, [poor] housing, poverty, weakness in health [care] and education, and the lack of horizons for political reform, as the causes of this tension.” Al-Awdah pointed out that “the continuation of the current situation is impossible, but the question is: where is this path leading us?”

    Al-Awdah expresses his belief that “the security grip will make things worse and stand in the way of attempts at reform.”

    Al-Awdah believes that “there is concern over the future (...) Maybe the exodus of capital and businessmen will increase. The citizens are afraid of chaos, disorder, and they need someone who will allay their fears through a pragmatic reform project, in which they can be partners.”

    Al-Awdah also writes: “No reasonable person wishes for the spark to become a fire that burns the country down, as they do not want violence to be the tool for expression. If revolutions are oppressed, they turn into armed action. If they are ignored, they expand and extend. The solution lies in wise resolutions, which, if applied on time, can prevent the spark of violence.”

    Al-Awdah writes: “The rise in the security obsession has made most of the nation’s activities subject to security examination.” He touched upon the topic of the detainees by saying: “All suspects have been locked up, and there was an opportunity to release those suspected of being innocent. However, this did not happen (...) The repercussions were the sowing of rancour, the desire for revenge, and the considerable expansion of militant ideology in the jails.”

    Al-Awdah added: “May members of the ruling family do not agree with the policy of prisons, and this is well known on Twitter and in meetings.”

    Saudi Arabia has been witnessing for some time sit-ins and rallies in Al-Qasim and Riyadh, especially those staged by the family members of prisoners or detainees from the radical religious movement, who call for their release. Al-Awdah criticized “the control of the intelligence apparatus over prisoners - from the time they are being monitored, to the moment they are detained and searched, and until they are tried and sentenced - which deprives them of many rights.”

    He wrote: “The burning of pictures of officials is symbolic, and it should not pass unnoticed.” Al-Awdah warned against closing the doors because “a helpless person might take risks, disregarding what is good and bad (...) A solution must be found for this situation and there should be no prisoners except those whose involvement [in a crime] has been proven and who had absolute legal rulings issued against them. Finally, this must be announced as soon as possible.”

    Al-Awdah considers that “it is necessary to release the detainees of HASM [Association for Civil and Political Rights] and the reformists of Jedda,” in a reference to the rulings issued on 9 March condemning two prominent human rights activists to jail, approximately 10 years for each activist, and the closing down of their society for not acquiring a license to practice.

    Al-Awdah believes that “the rights of a citizen are innate and not granted.”

    Al-Quds al-Arabi website, London, in Arabic 16 Mar 13

    BBC Monitoring

  • Church Times, the leading Anglican magazine:

    THE sole Anglican cathedral in the Gulf, St Christopher’s, in Manama, the capital of Bahrain, celebrated its diamond jubilee last weekend. A special service was held on Sunday, at which the preacher was the Bishop of Cyprus & the Gulf, the Rt Revd Michael Lewis. St Christopher’s was consecrated in 1953, and became a cathedral in 1986.

  • Surprise Hit Was a Shock for Artists Heard on It (Harlem Shake dispute)

    Hector Delgado gave up being a reggaetón artist five years ago to become an evangelical preacher in Puerto Rico. So it was something of a surprise when his former manager, Javier Gómez, called him three weeks ago and said his voice could be clearly heard on “Harlem Shake,” a song that had gone viral on the Internet and then climbed to the top of the pop chart.

    He wasn’t alone. Jayson Musson, a rapper from Philadelphia, received an excited call from another member of the former rap collective Plastic Little, who told him that his voice could be heard on the hit song as well, yelling out the key phrase “Do the Harlem Shake!”(...)

    Both Mr. Musson and Mr. Delgado are seeking compensation from Mad Decent Records, which put out the single last year.

    #copyright #musique #droits_d_auteur #sampling

  • Christian preacher blames gays for Hurricane Sandy | Gay Star News

    Christian preacher blames gays for Hurricane Sandy
    Chaplain John McTernan has said God’s judgment of gays caused the hurricane nearing the east coast of the United States
    29 October 2012 | By Joe Morgan
    Chaplain John McTernan is blaming Hurricane Sandy on gay people, as well as Barack Obama and Mitt Romney’s ’support’ of gay issues.

    An anti-gay Christian preacher is already blaming Hurricane Sandy on gays.

    As the east coast of the United States prepares for the storm, which has already killed 60 people in the Caribbean, author and chaplain John McTernan has decided who is at fault.

    On his website Defend Proclaim The Faith, the preacher says the gathering storm must be God’s judgment on gays, and punishing the president Barack Obama for coming out in support of marriage equality.

    He believes ever since George Bush Sr signed the Madrid Peace Process to divide the land of Israel in 1991, ‘America has been under God’s judgment since this event.’

    McTernan said: ‘Obama is 100% behind the Muslim Brotherhood which has vowed to destroy Israel and take Jerusalem.

    ‘Both candidates are pro-homosexual and are behind the homosexual agenda. America is under political judgment and the church does not know it!’

    His reasoning for this is that it has been 21 years since the ‘perfect storm’ of October 1991.

    ’21 years breaks down to 7 x 3, which is a significant number with God. Three is perfection as the Godhead is three in one while seven is perfection,’ he said.

    McTernan had planned to host a prayer meeting tonight (29 October), which would be streamed online on his website.

    However as the storm is scheduled to go right over his house, the preacher has warned the sermons may be stopped if the power goes out.

    The online minister also blamed Hurricane Isaac, which later became a tropical storm, on homosexuals. He said gay festival Southern Decadence was to blame, as God was ‘putting an end to this city and its wickedness.’

    Thousands of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people enjoyed Southern Decadence, and nine preachers were arrested for an aggressive anti-gay demonstration.

    Tris Reid-Smith, director and editor of Gay Star News, who is in Baltimore, Maryland for LGBT workplace conference Out and Equal, said: ’So far it looks like any cancellations to events over the next few days are just going to give us more time for partying.

    ’If God is trying to punish the gays, he sure doesn’t know how to do it.’

    Sandy, dubbed a ‘Frankenstorm’, could affect up to 60 million people as several states have declared emergencies, schools have closed and transport services suspended.